Canada- Ministers: We were deceived by backers of convicted archbishop

For immediate release: Monday, March 3, 2014

For more info: Melanie Jula Sakoda 925-708-6175 cell, melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, Cappy Larson cappy@rlarson.com, David Clohessy 314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

Ministers say they were "deceived"

Fundraiser for convicted predator won't happen in Ottawa 

He was Orthodox Church’s highest ranking cleric in Canada

But in Jan a judge found archbishop guilty of sexually assaulting a boy

Victims’ group calls for investigation into "hurtful & disturbing situation"

SNAP: “Discipline church officials who participated in this callous effort”

Two ministers at an Ottawa parish say that they were “deceived” by a group planning to use their church to hold a fundraiser for a convicted child molesting cleric. 

Late last week, leaders at Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa wrote to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, saying that they did not know the scheduled March 5 event was to benefit Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who was found guilty last month of molesting a boy. Storheim was the Orthodox Church in America’s (OCA) highest ranking cleric in Canada.

SNAP had written to Woodroffe pastors Rev. Matt Gallinger (613-722-9250 x223, matt@woodroffeunited.org) and Rev. Jan Lougheed (613-722-9250 x226, 613-799-6238, jlough@rogers.com) urging them to block the fundraiser.

Within hours of hearing from SNAP, the pastors cancelled the event and said that it would not be rescheduled in their parish.

(The complete text of the pastors' letter is pasted below.)

Now, SNAP is asking OCA officials to identify those who allegedly deceived the Woodroffe parish and who they say hurt victims by promoting a public benefit for a child predator. They are also asking that any church officials who participated be severely disciplined.

“Publicly rallying around a proven child predator is morally wrong and intimidates other child sex abuse victims into staying silent,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP. “It's also wrong to lie to other churches. The OCA hierarchy should investigate both parts of this controversy and publicly discipline those responsible so it won't happen again.”

SNAP sent letters denouncing the proposed fundraiser to the OCA, the OCA's Archdiocese of Canada, the United Church of Canada, and the Woodroffe parish on the morning of February 27th. The victims’ group asked each to cancel or denounce the event. SNAP pointed out that a public event benefiting a convicted pedophile “hurt at least one child sex abuse victim and deterred other child sex abuse victims from speaking up.”

http://www.snapnetwork.org/canada_victims_blast_fundraiser_for_convicted_archbishop 

The victims’ group is again writing to the OCA and the Archdiocese of Canada, pushing for an investigation:

Orthodox Church in America

Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, Tel: 516-922-0550

Archdiocese of Canada

Bishop Irenee Rochon, Tel: 613-223-7780 

(The complete texts of the letters are pasted below.)

The proposed fundraiser was advertized on a website called “Our Love and Support to Archbishop Seraphim (Storheim).” However, it's not clear who is responsible for this website, or who organized the proposed benefit and allegedly misled the Woodroffe parish. 

http://archbishopseraphim.org/

The site’s webmaster is Alexander Ovodov (604-904-9550, info@archbishopseraphim.org). Ovodo is a parishioner and webmaster at Sobor of the Holy Resurrection in Vancouver, British Columbia (Rector: Archpriest Mikhail Fourik 604-325-1922 work, 604-322-0024 home, mfourik@hotmail.com). 

http://archbishopseraphim.org/letter_from_webmaster

http://archbishopseraphim.org/Alexander

http://www.enom.com/whois/holyres-org.html

In addition, Ovodov was the webmaster of the Canadian archdiocese’s site from 2007 until at least 2010. He may very well still hold this position. 

http://www.archdiocese.ca/rescs/council/2007-04.pdf

http://www.holyres.org/en/?p=1350 

Melanie Sakoda of SNAP believes that it is inappropriate for the Church to allow a man who has an official position in his parish, and possibly the archdiocese, from taking such a visible role in supporting the convicted archbishop.  

“I’m not sure why the OCA and the Archdiocese of Canada are tolerating this obvious conflict of interest. However, it certainly explains why the Holy Resurrection website had materials supportive of the archbishop back in 2011, and continues to have them today.”

http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_press_releases/2011_press_releases/010511_parish_solicits_legal_funds_for_accused_cleric.htm

http://www.holyres.org/en/?p=1342

Cappy Larson, also of SNAP added, “The bishops need to take immediate action to get to the bottom of this deplorable situation. Victims were hurt and intimidated, and clergy in another faith community are saying the event organizers lied to them. If any OCA officials were involved, their heads should roll.”

Support from a couple of church officials can be found on the Archbishop Seraphim website.

http://archbishopseraphim.org/archbishop-lazar

http://archbishopseraphim.org/jeremy_scratch

http://archbishopseraphim.org/scratch_jeremy 

Archbishop Lazar is a retired OCA bishop. Scratch is a member of the Saint Tikhon Archdiocesan Stewards Committee.

http://oca.org/holy-synod/retired

http://www.archdiocese.ca/content/stas

http://www.archdiocese.ca/content/archdiocesan-officials

Storheim was suspended by the OCA following his arrest for child sexual abuse in November of 2010. The archbishop was accused of sexually abusing 11 year old twin boys. He was tried last year on those charges and was convicted of abusing one of the men last month. Storheim will be sentenced later this year. The archbishop is also awaiting the outcome of an internal church investigation. 

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747,SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com)

*****

Woodroffe United Church

207 Woodroffe United Church

Ottawa, Ontario

K2A 3V1 

February 28, 2013 (sic)

To Whom It May Concern: 

The concert that had been tentatively scheduled at Woodroffe United Church on March 5th was never a confirmed booking. We did not have a signed contract, nor had any payments been made. We had been deceived about the intended destination for the donations that were to be received, and were entirely unaware that they were intended as support for Seraphim Storheim.

We were first made aware of this by SNAP on February 27th, 2014. We are grateful to them for making us aware of the fundraising plans. In response to their letter to us, we immediately undertook to cancel the concert outright. It will not be rescheduled in our Church. 

Thank you,

Rev. Matt Gallinger

Rev. Jan Lougheed 

*****

Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard

Orthodox Church in America

P.O. Box 675
Syosset, NY 11791

SENT BY FAX and EMAIL:

Fax: 516-922-0954

Email: metropolitan@oca.org 

March 3, 2014

Re: Investigation into Fundraiser for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim

Dear Metropolitan Tikhon:

As you are aware, a public concert to raise funds for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim was scheduled to take place at the Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa on March 5th. Last week we wrote to you, Bishop Irenee Rochon, the United Church of Canada and the Woodroffe parish asking for help in cancelling or denouncing this hurtful event.

http://www.snapnetwork.org/canada_victims_blast_fundraiser_for_convicted_archbishop

That same day we heard from a minister at the Ottawa parish, telling us that the event was cancelled and would not be rescheduled. Disturbingly, these pastors also alleged that they were not told that the concert was to benefit Archbishop Seraphim. Specifically, they claim that they were “deceived” by the event organizers.

(A copy of the letter is enclosed.)

Metropolitan Tikhon, we beg you to investigate and to determine who is responsible for this deplorable situation so that it won’t be repeated. Victims were hurt and intimidated, and clergy in another faith community have accused the event organizers, presumably members of the OCA, of lying to them. If any Church officials were involved, they should be severely disciplined.  

We look forward to hearing the results of your investigation soon. 

David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Cappy Larson of San Francisco, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (cappy@rlarson.com)

Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (925-708-6175 cell, melanie.sakoda@gmail.com)

*****

Right Reverend Irenee Rochon
Archdiocese of Canada
9600 rue St-Denis Apt A101
Montreal, QC H2M 1P2 Canada
SENT BY FAX and EMAIL:
Fax: 613-233-1931
Email: bishopirenee@archdiocese.ca 

March 3, 2014

Re: Investigation into Fundraiser for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim

Dear Bishop Irenee: 

As you are aware, a public concert to raise funds for Archbishop Seraphim Storheim was scheduled to take place at the Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa on March 5th. Last week we wrote to you, Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, the United Church of Canada and the Woodroffe parish asking for help in cancelling or denouncing this hurtful event.

http://www.snapnetwork.org/canada_victims_blast_fundraiser_for_convicted_archbishop

That same day we heard from a minister at the Ottawa parish, telling us that the event was cancelled and would not be rescheduled. Disturbingly, these pastors also alleged that they were not told that the concert was to benefit Archbishop Seraphim. Specifically, they claim that they were “deceived” by the event organizers.

(A copy of the letter is enclosed.)

Bishop Irene, we beg you to investigate and to determine who is responsible for this deplorable situation so that it won’t be repeated. Victims were hurt and intimidated, and clergy in another faith community have accused the event organizers, presumably members of the OCA, of lying to them. If any Church officials were involved, they should be severely disciplined.  

We look forward to hearing the results of your investigation soon.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)

Cappy Larson of San Francisco, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (cappy@rlarson.com)

Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (925-708-6175 cell, melanie.sakoda@gmail.com)

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commented 2014-03-03 11:17:23 -0600 · Flag
Thanks for sharing this. Many Orthodox have pointed fingers at the Catholics and claim such things never happen in their churches with their bishops and priests….It is good to see that all who hurt and molest children and young adults will be brought to the carpet. When this happens, it encourages healing for the victims and urges those to come forth about their own personal abuse. When I was abused, no one listened. At least now people are listening and our society has rejected the ‘keep quiet’ about such things" mentality. God bless you for your good work in helping families.
@SNAPNetwork tweeted this page. 2014-03-03 08:19:17 -0600
Our most powerful tool is the light of truth. Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice.



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